KARACHI: Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) plans to send Olympian judoka Shah Hussain to Budapest, Hungary, in March for three months training during which he will also feature in Olympic qualifying events.
“Yes, we have planned to send Shah to Budapest, Hungary, in March for three months training. We chose Hungary because it has the International Judo Federation (IJF) headquarters. It has the best academy where fighters from across the world train,” PJF vice-president Masood Ahmad told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
“If we are able to send Shah to Hungary he will train and feature in a few events slated to be held in Europe with ease. There will be no issue of communication then after he gets Europe visa,” Masood said.
“He needs quality training for the Olympics. A few days ago I contacted him and he was facing training issues in Japan as clubs have been restricted due to Covid issues,” said Masood, also a former PJF Secretary.
Shah currently occupies 45th place in Olympics rankings in -100 kilogramme weight category. He has already qualified for Tokyo Olympics on continental quota. However, he will have to maintain that position until the end of the qualifying events.
Masood said that PJF has already filed the programme with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Board has promised full support.
“We are very much confident that the state will fully back us. The PSB has always supported us,” Masood said. “Shah needs to feature in minimum five events, a couple of Grand Slams, World Championships and Asian and Pacific Championships. Dates of some events are not yet confirmed,” Masood said.
“Currently Doha Masters is in operation. We did not send Shah there because in that event world’s top 35 to 36 fighters can feature,” he said.
It has also been learnt that either Qaiser Afridi or Japan-based Amina Toyoda may also go to Hungary for training.
If Shah achieves direct qualification to Olympics then Amina will have a chance to get wildcard entry.
“Our main focus is on Shah. He has the ability to do wonders as he is now experienced enough. If he features in Olympics he will go all out for a medal. He has the guts and experience and can do anything,” Masood said.
Shah featured in the 2016 Rio Olympics on the basis of continental quota. However, he failed to clear the first hurdle.
During the last four years he has shown great improvement in his techniques.
Pakistan government has started supporting training of those national athletes who have already qualified for Olympics. Three shooters and javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem are being backed by the state in terms of training, foreign coaches, pre-Olympics competitions and equipment. Victoria-based equestrian Usman Khan is being funded for the purchase of his new horse. His 13-year old New Zealand thoroughbred Azad Kashmir, through which he qualified for Olympics, died last summer.
Shah, karateka Saadi Abbas and a bunch of players from other disciplines have been kept by the state in the second cadre in terms of support.
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